Reviewer Finds "Goodly Assortment of Reading Matter" in Latest Number of Advocate--Essay by Melish is Outstanding
The following review of the current issue of the Advocate was written specially for the Crimson by A. R. Sweezy 1G, former president of the Crimson.
In its Christmas issue the Advocate provides readers with an ample volume and goodly assortment of reading matter. Nor is the list of offerings, which range through essays, both serious and bantering, stories, poems, book reviews, and a sizable editorial devoid of good workmanship.
Outstanding for the latter quality is W. H. Melish's essay on "Norman Forester and the New Humanism." Melish has a grasp of his subject, a background of extensive reading, and a maturity of literary style which place him in a class by himself among the contributors to the present number of the Advocate. He is a thorough-going, though far from a blind, disciple of Professor Babbitt. He has in fact done more than accept the Humanist creed; he has taken the trouble to find out what the Humanists are talking about and has equipped himself to speak with them. And, as I have already indicated, his present contribution gains added consideration from the ease and maturity of the style in which it is composed.
Turning from the thoughtful and carefully composed essay of Mr. Melish the reader comes upon E. L. Belisle's "Dialogues of the Half Dead"--the order is rather reversed since Mr. Belisle's sketch occupies the opening pages of the issues. Here is something in quite a different vein--a sort of Babel of philosophers, poets, and literary figures of all ages and kinds. The scene is half-way up Olympus; the characters range from Aristotle, Socrates, Aristophanes, through Rabelais, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, to Freud, Joyce, Lawrence, Babbitt and many others. Mr. Belisle's effort is the kind of thing one starts out disposed to ap- preciate to the limit. The first few pages--concerned chiefly with the ancients--are worthy of appreciation and the reader's pre-conceived sympathy undergoes no strain. But as things go on and the characters multiply at an alarming rate--there are some 64 of them in all--and the remarks attributed to each become more and-more random the limit set to one's appreciation is reached and, in the last couple of pages, unfortunately passed.
To go on down the line the stories as a whole are scarcely distinguished. There is too much uncertainty of style and too little firmness of character delineation to draw them out of the ruck of immature undergraduate offerings. A possible exception is R. G. Evans' "Two Artists." The others for the most part fail to convince the reader that there was any justification for their being written beyond the benefit of the practice involved.
More can be said for both the poetry and the book reviews which to a large extent bear the stamp of literary competency. Worthy of particular note is the "Sonnet" by J. R. Agee.
From the vantage point of his own easy chair the editor makes a commendable attempt to probe into the psychology of vacationing and vacationers. Although successful in spots his contribution as a whole lacks cohesion and finish